Fascinating Atmosphere Within a Living Harmony with History, Side

Updated: Feb 2, 2021

About the city: Side is a holiday destination in Antalya. Antalya is known as one of the centers of summer holidays in Turkey. In Side, which has a population of 14.115 under normal conditions, this rate triples during the summer season. This charming town, one of the oldest cities in the world, is rich in history, archeology, and culture.

In how many days you can visit the whole city: 2 days will be enough to visit Side.

Best time to visit: The most popular period of the Side is summer due to having a good Mediterranean climate. Side, which is heavily influenced by tourists especially in June and July, can be visited in the spring months such as September or May. It is also a delight to travel in calmness in those months.

Museum cards: There is no special museum card for Side. But you can buy Museumcard + or Museumcard which is available in many ancient cities of Turkey and Side Museum, the ancient city of Side, and many places to discount or free as possible to enter the Amphitheater.

Airport / Central Transportation: Transportation to Side by air is provided by Antalya Airport. To reach Side from Antalya Airport, facilities such as HAVAŞ, bus, and transfer are available at the airport.

Brief information about Side

Side, built on a peninsula with a length of 1 kilometer and a width of 400 meters, on the coastal part of Manavgat, its magnificent gate surrounded by walls, ancient port, Apollo, Athena, Dionysus temples, baths, colonnaded streets, theater, agora, triumphal arch, basilica, baths, It is a magnificent place where you can experience the history in detail thanks to old houses, monuments, fountains and of course, the ruins exhibited in the city museum. It is also the most important port city of Pamphylia, which means "Land of Races", where many races lived together in antiquity and differed from other states with this feature.

Location of the ancient city (click here)

It is estimated that Side, one of the oldest settlements in Anatolia, was founded before the Hittite Period in the 7th century BC. Respectively; The city, which was the habitat of the Hittites, Lydians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans, continues to bear the traces of each of these periods. Side Ancient City, attract attention every year, especially from history and archeology enthusiasts.

It has been determined that Side, which means "Pomegranate" in Anatolian language. It has a unique language. It is thought that this language "Sidece", which was revealed with inscriptions, is a language of Luwian origin used by the Luwians, the native people of Anatolia, in various sources. As an important port city, Side had a very important position as a science, culture, and trade center of the period. Built on a peninsula in Antalya, Side Ancient City starts from the main gate as in other ancient cities of Pamphylia and stretches along an ancient street where there are colonnaded porticos with Corinthian capitals on both sides. This ancient city, which is both one of the important tourist spots of Antalya and the symbol of Side, should definitely be seen!

Why Should I Go? Before converting to Christianity; Side, where many gods such as Apollo and Athena, Aphrodite, Ares, Asklepios, Hegaia, Kharites, Demeter, Dionysos, Hermes are present. Because of that in terms of temples, Side is a very rich place. However, the ruins of the city, which was thoroughly destroyed by the attacks of the Arab raids, the attacks of the Kings of Cyprus, the attacks of the Genoese, Venice and Rhodes pirates, and the looting during the Crusades. So, in the Ancient City of Side, it is hard to see the whole building blocks.

These structures are in a good situation for tourists to visit: City gate, city walls, Nymphaeum, colonnaded streets, waterway, Triumphal Arch, Trade Agora, Ancient Theater, Agora Bath (Side Museum), Vespasian Fountain and Monumental Gate, Dionysos Temple, Basilica, Harbor Bath, Episcopal Palace and Basilica, It consists of the Temple of Athena, the Temple of Apollo, the South Basilica, the State Agora, the Great Bath, the Baptistery and the Philippus Attius Wall.

Entrance Gate to the ancient city of Side

An ancient entrance to the ancient city of Side before the Roman era

Monumental Fountain (Nymphaeum)

The Monumental Fountain (Nymphaeum), known as the most magnificent fountain from the Roman Period, is located in the Ancient City of Side. The Monumental Fountain, estimated to have been built in the 2nd century AD, is thought to be a three-story building, although it is now two-floor. Nymphaeum, also known as the Roman Fountain and the Nine Fountain, has a height of 20 meters and a width of 50 meters.

The water source of the fountain is the aqueducts in the ancient city. The Monumental Fountain (Nymphaeum), an architecturally aesthetic example of an ancient fountain decorated with Corinthian capitals, elegant sculptures, and original frescoes, is a must-visit structure. Therefore, you can add this wonderful structure to the list of places to visit in Side with peace of mind.

Don't miss out! From Manavgat district center, you can reach Anıtal Çeşme by Side minibusses and buses that depart regularly at certain intervals seven days a week.

King's Highway

When you enter the Ancient City of Side through the main gate, you will see a monumental street. Starting from the Big Gate, the main street ends in the big square near the temples when you go straight. The other big street of the Ancient City of Side starts from the Big Gate and stretches towards the south. The common characteristic of the two streets is that they are both columned. The columns on both sides of the street have Corinthian heads. The shops are lined up in a single row behind the columns.

Episcopal Center…

Believing in many gods such as Athena and Apollo, Aphrodite, Ares, Demeter, Dionisos, and Hermes until this period, the Sideans began to become Christian in the 4th century. The city gained more importance when it became the bishopric center of Pamphylia in the 5th century.

Fountain of Vespasian

One of the symbolic and iconic structures of Side is located at the western end of the agora next to the ancient theater. The fountain is named after the Roman Emperor Imperator Caesar Vespasianus Augustus, who ascended the throne between 69-79. Connected with the Side Museum by a 15 meter high and 7-meter wide arch, the fountain stands out as one of the most beautiful examples of Roman and Hellenistic architecture. The Vespasianus Fountain with only one basin, which should definitely be added to the list of places to visit in Side, is a structure worth seeing with the marble friezes on it.

Theatre of Side - from Hellenistic to Roman design

Side Antique Theater with a special architecture… The theater, which was built with a size of 17 thousand spectators, was built not on a mountain slope like other Roman theaters, but on 20 meters long, two-floor, vaulted galleries, very close to the sea. It is architecturally similar to the Coliseum and is known to be used for gladiator and animal fights in the Late Roman Period. The theater, which was used as an open-air church in the 5th and 6th centuries, hosts many festivals and concerts today. After leaving the theater and advancing a little, the road divides into two. If you follow the road that continues to the left-right next to the theater, you reach the beach by walking among the historical ruins.

Why Should I Go? Composed of three parts as Scene, Orchestra, and Cavea, Side Antique Theater also has the privilege of being the largest monumental theater built in the Pamphylia region. It is known that the theater, where activities such as animal returns and gladiator fights were held in the Late Imperial Period, served as an open-air church in the Byzantine Period. Side Antique Theater hosts open-air concerts where many famous artists, music groups, orchestras take the stage and various theater performances.

Sunset in the Temple of Apollo

Temple of Apollo, one of the historical sites of Side, is one of the two temples built in the period known as the Roman Peace. Apollo, to which the temple is dedicated, is the god of light, beauty, music, arts, sun, poetry, and fire in Greek mythology; It is also among the chief gods of the city of Side. It is also known that Apollo, the twin brother of Artemis, the son of Zeus and Leto, was a successful oracle.

The foundation of the Temple of Apollo in the ancient city of Side, right in the middle of the Byzantine basilica and at the entrance of the ancient harbor, M.S. It dates back to 150 years. The thought that the temple was built to give fear to the enemies who will come to the city that the city was protected by the gods is an agreed view.

Why Should I Go? The columns with Corinthian capitals on the temple, which was built in the Roman order and in a rectangular shape in accordance with the Peripteros plan, are really worth seeing. Although some of the temple stones were dismantled to be used in the construction of the basilica when they started to turn into a Christian city, they were restored between 1982-1990 and brought to Side tourism. Restoration work continues at regular intervals.

Don't miss out! There is also the Temple of Athena where the Temple of Apollo is located. However, since there is not much left from the temple, it is not possible to reach much information about it.

King's Bedroom

It is located in the building behind the Apollo Temple. There are 4 sun-shaped areas in the room. These areas were used for heating the room.

Agora, State Agora, and Agora Bath

Agora, which can be considered as the heart of Side Ancient City, can be considered as the bazaar and trade center of the city. The Agora, which is surrounded by colonnaded entrances on four sides in a square area as a plan, has the ruins of ancient shops in the north and a domed structure used as a public toilet to the southwest. This domed structure is said to be the most ornate and best-preserved example of a public toilet in Anatolia. In the middle of the agora, there is a circular temple dedicated to the Goddess of Luck, with a pyramid-shaped roof and a 12-column exterior. Unfortunately, only the podium of the temple has survived until today.

Why Should I Go? A second agora is reached by a street running along the southern edge of the central agora. Also known as the state agora, this area also has a square plan; It is surrounded by Lon-style columns. In the middle of the State Agora, there is a high platform that was once used as a slave market. Thought to be a library or an imperial palace behind the column on the east side of the agora; There is a large, ornamented structure with three rooms. The Agora Bath, which is also located in this area and thought to be built in the 5th century AD, has been used as a museum for a long time.

The bath, which is a beautiful example of Byzantine architecture and consists of five rooms, is entered through a two-arched door. It was determined that the first room with a small cold water pool was used as a cold room, the other room was a domed sweating room, and the third room, which was the largest room, was used as a hot room. You should definitely add Agora, State Agora, and Agora Bath, which are an important part of the ancient city, to the list of places to visit in Side.

Side Museum

Side Museum, which opened the first museum in a village in Turkey, at the entrance to the ancient city of Side, is located in the Agora building in Bath that I mentioned above. In the museum, historical artifacts unearthed during the Side archaeological excavations conducted under the direction of Professor Doctor Arif Müfid Mansel in 1946-1966 are on display. It will be a wonderful experience for you to closely examine valuable historical artifacts in the atmosphere of the Agora Bath, which was restored and converted into a museum in 1959-1961. The Side Museum, which should be included in the list of places to visit in Side, hosts wonderful works from the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods.

Why Should I Go? After the restoration work carried out in the Side Museum, it consists of rooms numbered from 1 to 5 and a courtyard. It is the closed hall number 2 (Sudatorium), 3 (Caldarium), and 4 (Tepidarium) of the museum; Halls 1 (Frigidarium), 5 (Tepidarium), and the courtyard section serve as open exhibition areas.

In the museum courtyard, which used to be a part of the gymnasium in the ancient city, the frieze series of the mythological stories of the god of the sea, Poseidon, where the relationships of gods and goddesses with nature are depicted, friezes from the Roman period, tomb inscriptions from the Seljuq Period, column bases and columns, busts and sculptures, mosaic pieces, inscriptions, and sarcophagi are on display. In the indoor halls, there are coins, glassworks, oil lamps, jewelry, statuettes, ornaments, architrave, ceiling cassette, sundials, altars, well bracelets, olive oil workshops, postponements, and pithoi.

Don't miss out! The most outstanding work of the Side Museum is undoubtedly the Three Beauties Sculpture, which symbolizes the elegance, beauty, and fertility of the 2nd century AD. The Three Beauties Statue identified with Hera, Aphrodite and Athena should be seen closely.

Modern Side

If you do not turn left in front of the theater and continue straight, you reach the touristic bazaar. This road, which is the main street of Side, is today as crowded as a shopping center with shops selling all kinds of tourist items. In addition to restaurants where you can taste local dishes, there are various bars and cafes in the port.

The best in Side: Side Orfoz Restaurant

Savor the special flavors of Turkish & World cuisine at Orfoz Restaurant which enjoys magnificent views of Side. The excellence of Turkish cuisine and unique ambiance makes dining here a perfect experience choose from a kebab cooked in a sealed clay pot, lamb shank with a thick tomato sauce, a selection of steaks with mouth-watering sauces, and other International dishes which are cooked and served at Orfoz Restaurant.

Daily fresh fish including king prawns, seafood of all types caught by our own fishermen and cooked to your choice. Excellent choices of desserts are available including a wide variety of ice creams in many flavors.

They also cater for Birthdays and special celebrations.

A large selection of Turkish & International wines, local and imported drinks as well as a range of cocktails.

* Coffee served to your liking as well as soft drinks.

* Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and snacks.

* Children's menu and play area.

* Free pick up service

Click to access the website of the restaurant

Click to reach the drink menu

Click to reach the food menu

Click to make a reservation

Click to reach the Tripadvisor page of the restaurant

Bonus: Side Underwater Museum

Turkey's first underwater museum of history since it was founded on October 31, 2015, is known to be visited by more than 50 thousand people. As the name suggests, only those who can dive can enter the museum. There are approximately 117 sculptures are exhibited under the sea. Therefore, unfortunately, such an opportunity is not available for those who do not know how to swim. The Side Underwater Museum, located approximately 1.5 miles off Side, at depths of 11, 18, and 24 meters, hosts the works of sculptors specially brought from Istanbul and Gaziantep.

Why Should I Go? Each of the statues symbolizing important elements in terms of Turkey's history and culture. For example, statues such as soldiers, gun carriages, standing soldiers, and cannonballs in the trench represent the Çanakkale and Independence Wars; Approximately 30 statues of Mevlana and whirling dervishes at a depth of 12 meters symbolize the Mevlana tradition and the Mevlevi tradition.

Also camel caravan in the museum, the Turkish flag and Turkey map, mythological sea god figurines on display magnificent works like the statue of Poseidon. Side Underwater Museum is visited by more than 10 thousand diving enthusiasts every year. Swimming accompanied by colorful sea creatures increases the pleasure of visiting this wonderful museum!

The photos used above were taken from the internet and some of them were taken by Nazlı Bedir and Deniz Gökçe Dönmez.

You can take a short tour of Side Ancient City by watching this video! (click here)

Feel free to write to us!

See you in my next article,

Deniz Gökçe Dönmez

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